MSNBC host David Shuster on Tuesday demonstrated his condescension for conservative tea party activists, deriding protesters who had arrived in Washington as "far right" and "going nuts." Talking to reporter Richard Wolffe, he chided, "I mean, what does the White House make of the opposition on the far right?" [Audio available here.]
Later in the day, Shuster showed video of demonstrators who oppose the health care bill and dismissed, "Tea partiers are going nuts over the process Nancy Pelosi may use to pass the bill, even though it's the same process Republicans used when they were in power."
In the 10am hour, the MSNBC anchor talked to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar. He brought up the very unusual parliamentary tactics that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened to use. But, Shuster didn't seem particularly concerned with questions of the constitutionality of the so-called deem and pass measure. Instead, the journalist fretted about the "very pugnacious, very aggressive" tone of the protesters.
Shuster worried, "Is that smart politically? And are Democrats worried at all about the way that the rhetoric has gone in this debate? And maybe that hurts you in the November election?"
A partial transcript of some of Shuster's March 16 questions about conservative protesters can be found below.
DAVID SHUSTER: And, Richard, what does the White House make of some of the rhetoric? [Footage of the Kill the Bill rally appears onscreen.] I mean, there we see, for example, Congressman from Indiana, Mike Pence. We've heard a number of tea party activists this morning say that this is war. I mean, what does the White House make of the opposition on the far right?
RICHARD WOLFFE: I don't think anything surprises them about the opposition. After all, they went through that horrible phase over last summer when all the pictures were about those town all protests. At this point, Democrats in general, strategists, the White House, the consultants, everyone agrees once they go out and sell the package, they will be on a different terrain than they are right now. So the goal here is to have another round of selling this after the votes. It doesn't stop with the vote itself.
SHUSTER: Senator, what do you make of the politics? Right now, I'm not sure you can see it, but we're showing a split screen. And you can see Congressman Mike Pence as part of the tea party activists who are having a rally. It looks like dozens of people on the hill. But, their rhetoric has been very pugnacious, very aggressive. Is that smart politically? And are Democrats worried at all about the way that the rhetoric has gone in this debate? And maybe that hurts you in the November election?
SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minn): You know what? The key here, and I think the President said it very well yesterday in Ohio, when he was talking about real people we're dealing with. They can talk all they want and throw darts at things like reconciliation, when in fact they used it 16 of the past 22 times when the Republicans ran the United States Senate. They can talk about that all they want. I take that anyway and beat that out with the people I'm hearing from my state, like the woman from Bemidji, Minnesota, whose daughter just got kicked off her insurance plan because her husband is at a small business and they basically can't afford it anymore.
SHUSTER: Plus, on Capitol Hill, the battle has erupted again over health care reform.
PROTESTERS CHANTING: Kill the bill! Kill the bill! Kill the bill!
SHUSTER: Kill the bill! Tea partiers are going nuts over the process Nancy Pelosi may use to pass the bill even though it's the same process Republicans used when they were in power. We will explain.